[The following chapter is from a forthcoming book. In reading this chapter please keep in mind that the chapter before this chapter was on the call of Amos in reference to the plague that had befallen Israel. The chapter after the material of this chapter explains in detail the “shakings” that occurred in the Bible. The reader, therefore, must be patient until the publication of the forthcoming book in order to read this chapter in the context of both the preceding and following chapters.]
There is nothing like national or international pandemics or wars to draw out of the theological woodwork numerous prognosticators and their “end-of-time” pronouncements. This is so because such self-appointed prophets of doom often seek a following by instilling fear in the hearts of those who trust in their word. Such prophets existed before the revelation of the gospel, and they continue to exist in the religious world even to this day.
If someone today is seeking to frighten people into obedience through prognostications of “end-of-time” pronouncements, then that person has little understanding of the true reassuring power of the gospel in which we now stand. He has forgotten that our primary motivation for being disciples of Jesus Christ is based on our gratitude of the gospel of the incarnate Son of God. All other motivations for becoming a disciple of Jesus are minor in comparison to our response to the awesome love that was revealed on the cross. In fact, a young disciple who was at the foot of the cross, and into whose care was entrusted the blessed woman who brought into the world the crucified person who was at the time nailed to the cross for us, once wrote, “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). Our loving gratitude for the eternal deed of the cross must find its expression in our response to the cross. And there is no fear in a loving response to the love of God that was expressed on the cross. In fact, the one who adopted the mother of Jesus, wrote, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 Jn 4:18).
There is reassurance in our hearts in all world calamities we might have to endure in this life because we understand the present gospel reign of King Jesus. We have tremendous love for our King, and thus remain in a loyal obedient relationship with Him in reference to His commandments. For this reason, the apostle Paul wrote in this following statement his personal response to the gospel reign of King Jesus: “Knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade men” (2 Co 5:11). We have this unquenchable desire to be the fearful for those of this world, and thus we seek to bring every soul into the security of the gospel that we enjoy.
The same apostle who wrote the preceding statement, also wrote the following in reference to the reassurance we experience as obedient subjects of the kingdom reign of the King of kings: “For you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rm 8:15). As we walk in obedience to King Jesus, we walk with the reassurance that comes to us through His grace. We are assured that He will forgive us of all our sins as we continue with Him on this earthly journey (1 Jn 1:7). We will not fear during any earthquake, tornado, hurricane or virus.
As the disciples of Christ, we know the awesome authority of the judgment of our King. But because of the gospel of grace that we have obeyed, we have confidence in His redeeming blood. Therefore, we do not fear the Judge, nor do we fear during any calamities that occur in this world over which He has control. We preach the gospel because we know what the Judge will do to those who do not fear (obey) Him (See 2 Th 1:6-9).
We must understand the preceding in the context of the scope of the book. We must firmly believe that King Jesus has all things in control, regardless of what calamities we must endure as a result of any geological or biological attacks from the environment that make our journey in this world sometimes uncomfortable. Therefore, when the Bible speaks of the shaking power of the Creator and Judge of all things, we must understand His awesome power to shake all things in our present environment in order to accomplish the purpose for which He created the world. This was the contextual meaning of what Paul wrote in the following statement: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rm 8:28). When this world of humanity turns away from the purpose for which it was created, then it is time to shake humanity back into realizing the existence of the Creator of all things. In the process of this shaking, Christians must not lose sight of the fact that the Creator is shaking things back into some godly order. Nevertheless, though God has at times shaken civilization throughout history in order to accomplish His purposes, when He can no longer accomplish His purpose by disturbing humanity and our environment, then it is time to start expecting some finalization of all things.
The failure of the present-day prognosticators with their end-of-time fear tactics is that without an exception, they often fail to understand the historical context of the “shakings” of the Lord throughout history, particularly in reference to God’s people in the Old Testament. The word “shaking” is used several times throughout the Old Testament in reference to God directing a remnant of His people to the eventual fulfillment of gospel promises. However, if we do not understand the immediate historical context when those particular “shakings” took place, then we will invariably misunderstand the purpose for which the Lord shakes humanity today. Those who are obsessed with the end of the world unfortunately make this common mistake in their hermeneutics. It is for this reason that we must understand the historical context of the people whom the Lord shook in the past in order to remind ourselves of our Creator and the reason why we are on this earth.
Therefore, we would caution every student of the Bible not to be caught up in the present fanaticism that the present shaking of humanity throughout the world is some indication of the end of the world. All “shakings” in the Bible were in reference to purposes God sought to accomplish in time. They were not sent to signal of the end of times. If we use the Bible as our “dictionary” to define the metaphor of a “shaking,” then we cannot conclude that any “shaking” in time is a sign of the end of time. This is true because all of God’s “shakings” in the Old and New Testaments referred to something that took place in time.
It is a fact that the Lord allows natural shakings to occur throughout history. Sometimes, He directly causes the “shaking,” which was the case in the days of Amos. When He directly caused that “shaking,” He had to raise up a prophet to let the people know that the calamity that had befallen the northern kingdom of Israel was caused directly by Him. But we affirm that God no longer raises up special prophets to identify His “shakings.” Because of the inspired record of His “shakings” in the Old Testament, He assumes that all believers today have enough sense—at least biblical sense—to conclude that He is still at work in our world today. We need no special prophet to rise up among us and reveal that God continues to work in the affairs of this world. The fact is that He never ceased to so work. If someone would rise up to be a self-proclaimed God-sent prophet, then we know that such a preacher is a prognosticator, not a God-called prophet as Amos. He thus speaks presumptuously if he claims to be a prophet of God.
Therefore, this is where we must be cautious. God personally called Amos to inform the people concerning the origin of the natural calamity that came upon the people of his day. In other “shakings” in the Old Testament, God directly inspired prophets to reveal that a particular “shaking” was sent directly from Him in order to accomplish something in reference to the preservation of a faithful remnant until the entrance of the Son of Man into this world. Therefore, unless a prophet is raised up directly by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit to identify that a particular “shaking” has been sent directly from God, then we must assume that any “shaking” that we must endure in these times is simply the occurrence of the natural or biological laws of this world in which we live. We must believe this regardless of our belief that God continues to work behind the scene of natural laws in order to accomplish the same purpose of all His “shakings” that He brought upon the world from the beginning of time.
Natural occurrences (“shakings”) usually accomplish the same result as the directly imposed “shakings” that God used in the past in order to produce fear in the hearts of the people. But we must affirm that since the days when King Jesus came in judgment on national Israel in A.D. 70, there have been no prophets directly called by God to identify a particular natural shaking to have been sent directly from God. If a presumptuous prophet would seek to rise up among us to supposedly speak by the Holy Spirit to identify that a particular “shaking” is directly from God, then we must assume that that person is not a true prophet. He or she is a self-appointed prognosticator who seeks to create fear in the hearts of men, often for his own profit.
The true believer simply understands that we are in the bondage of a natural world that is groaning, as we, for deliverance from this present state of existence. This is the thought that the apostle Paul revealed in reference to our present bodily state in a physical world that is subject to the laws of nature, both biological and geological:
“For the creation was made subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who has subjected it in hope, because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors together until now in pains of birth. And not only that, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rm 8:20-23).
It is time to take another look at the preceding statement, realizing that every natural or biological catastrophe of this present world is a reminder that both the earth and ourselves groan for deliverance from this present state of existence. It is not that we need a prophet as Amos to rise up and tell us its so. It is that we as believers realize that King Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power (Hb 1:3). And though it may seem that all things are out of control, by faith we must conclude that He always has everything under control. We remember the following statement by the Holy Spirit:
“You have put all things in subjection under His feet. For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things put under Him” (Hb 2:8).
[Other chapters will be published of this book when they are completed.]